News

AGM 2024 A Success!

Greetings CUUWA members, supporters, and admirers. Reaching the completion of another year of service at CUUWA, there is a lot to communicate. First of all, you may be wondering who is writing this post. It is I, Najat McFarland, newly appointed volunteer Communications Director. I am happy to step into this role and keep the “Embers Burning”.

What am I referring to “Embers Burning”? Well, that is CUUWA’s new phase. We are in a “rest & reset” mode for the next while. Our outgoing council member, Kathy Sage, says it best with her closing words at the AGM.

‘The seasons of our life eb and flow with energy.

The seasons of our organizations also eb and flow.

This season for Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association is rest and reset.

We encourage each of you who have been a part of CUUWA to reflect, rest as you need, recharge, and in the eb and flow, renew your vision.

CUUWA is here when the need and matching energy arises, equipped to renew our mission.

Numerous resource remain on our website https://cuuwa.ca.

You can stay connected through our GoogleGroup listserve, Facebook page, and website.

You can stay connected by deepening connections with local activists  in your community and congregations and colleagues to collaborate on the issues and values that are most important to you.  If the need arises for a more active CUUWA, there could be stronger collaboration!

Thank you to all who are tending the embers and all who surround us collectively with caring and commitment.’

Rev. Kathy Sage

Another milestone we have achieved this AGM, is recognizing our Elders;

Reproduced from the Minutes:

Recognizing Our Elders: Presented by Betty Donaldson
The CUUWA Council has designated a new category of Membership:
ELDER. Founding member and former Council member, Ruth Patrick, was
our first member to attain 100 years and was celebrated at the 2023 AGM.
At the 2024 AGM, we honoured four more Council long-serving members as ELDERS: Margaret Linton (longest serving Council member), Rev.
Kathy Sage, and Janice Tait were all founding members; Jo-Anne Elder
Gomes is a past-president. An Elder has a lifetime membership, with voting
privileges, whether she makes an annual donation or not. Congratulations
and a heart-felt thank you to each woman.

Donations to Transition Houses

In response to Dr. Cloutier’s presentation, CUUWA voted to donate $100 to a Transition House, in Ontario and New Brunswick respectively, which are the provinces of the majority of AGM attendees.

Meanwhile, we invite you to become active in your feminism networks, and reach out to us to join the Google Group listserve or for any ideas, collaborations, sharing or other proposals you may have. Email cuuwa.cuc [at] gmail.com

Happy Feministing!

Advances for Canadian Unitarian Universalism within the Armed Forces

reproduced from CUC e-news May 2024

We are thrilled to announce two important milestones in our Unitarian Universalist community: First, Rev. Nicole McKay is the first Unitarian Universalist minister to serve as a military chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). On April 17, 2024, Rev. Nicole McKay met all conditions to become a UU Chaplain in the CAF. She is based at Canadian Forces Borden in Ontario. Ordained by the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto in May 2023, Nicole has been in the military since 2005, transitioning to chaplaincy in 2020.

Raised Catholic, she found her true calling in Unitarian Universalism, inspired by the Canadian Forces’ vision of diverse chaplaincy. Nicole’s work includes providing pastoral care, guiding on ethics, and contributing to policy revisions like transforming public prayer into inclusive public reflections. Her ongoing efforts ensure meaningful chaplaincy access for all military members, embodying the principle of caring for all. We celebrate her pioneering role and look forward to her continued contributions. Of significant note is that Rev. McKay is now authorized to wear a UU tradition identifier on her military uniforms—a patch depicting the flaming chalice.

To our knowledge, this is the first time a UU Military Chaplain in any country’s military service has worn the chalice as their spiritual faith tradition identifier. Read the article about Rev. McKay in the August 2023 eNews. Second, because we now have a Unitarian military chaplain, the Canadian Unitarian Council also gets a seat at the Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy (ICCMC). Rev. Rebecca (Beckett) Coppola is the first Unitarian representative on the ICCMC. The ICCMC supports the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service (RCChS) in its mission within the unique context of the CAF. It acts as the liaison between Faith Tradition communities in Canada and the RCChS, reflecting their work and supporting CAF Chaplains from various traditions. In 2000, the ICCMC expanded to include faith traditions beyond the Canadian Council of Churches and the Catholic Church.

This inclusion presented an opportunity for Unitarian Universalists to join, which was enthusiastically supported at the May 2023 UU Ministers of Canada Ministry Days gathering. Since then, the UUMOC Executive Committee, in collaboration with the CUC, has been diligently working to advance this initiative throughout the 2023-2024 year. When a CAF Chaplain from an unrepresented faith officially assumes their role, that tradition can then secure a seat on the ICCMC. This was achieved for Unitarian Universalism on April 17, 2024, when Rev. Nicole McKay became the first UU Chaplain in the CAF. Faith traditions only get a seat on the committee when they have active chaplains in the RCChS. While some faith traditions choose not to take their place at the table, those that do must nominate a representative of the ministry from their tradition to the committee.

The UU minister on the ICCMC will serve as the endorsing authority for chaplain candidates in the CAF. They will:

  • Review electronic files from the Chaplain General and respond as necessary.
  • Provide pastoral and other support for UU RCChS chaplains.
  • Participate in committee discussions from the perspective of Unitarian Universalism.
  • Undertake other committee work as necessary.
  • Maintain connections and relationships with the UUA’s Federal Chaplaincies Endorser, the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee, the CUC Executive Director and Board, and more. All ICCMC members are civilian volunteers who hold a contract with the Canadian Government. There are no salaries for committee members unless they are compensated by their faith tradition.

There are currently about twelve members on the Committee, with Rev. Coppola currently being the only female member.

Rev. Rebecca C. “Beckett” Coppola is a fellowshipped and ordained Unitarian Universalist minister with a Buddhist Master of Divinity from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She has been serving as the settled minister of the Kingston Unitarian Fellowship, in Kingston, Ontario since 2017. Beckett also: is a Co-Active Training Institute (CTI) certified personal growth and executive leadership coach with ten years of experience in private practice; for over twenty years has been a Yoga and meditation instructor with advanced training around teaching in military settings; and Beckett is a chaplain with four units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) including military ministry training and experience.

Beckett is inspired by the gifts of the world’s wisdom traditions while being deeply rooted in human relationships, systems theory, intellection, learning, and seeking. She brings a lifelong pursuit of, and profound respect for, spiritual practice to her journey. She is also committed to the work of social justice, embraces radical welcome, and brings a love of humanity’s potential into her ministry. Beckett enjoys a contemplative approach to living in community, and she does her best to embrace growth and transformation with an open heart while aspiring to walk the path of love.

AGM 2024 Guest Speaker: Denise Cloutier – June 2nd, 4:30pm EST

Title: Making it Home: Basic Needs & Creature Comforts for Women (Age 50+) Experiencing Housing Insecurity

Date & Time: June 2nd, 1800 (6pm) Newfoundland, 1730 (5:30pm) Atlantic, 1630 (4:30pm) Eastern, 15:30 Central, 14:30 Mountain, 13:30pm Pacific, for approximately one hour. Guest speaker and Q &A to last approximately 30-45 minutes. For ZOOM Meeting link, please request access by emailing: cuuwa.cuc@gmail.com .

Topic: In Dr. Cloutier’s presentation, she will share insights from her recent research with older women who have experienced housing insecurity, discussing the pathways that have led women to be precariously housed, their simple wishes and basic needs in support of their dignity and humanity, and priority recommendations for system improvements.  

Biosketch: Denise Cloutier, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Geography and a Research Fellow with the Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health at the University of Victoria. Her research focuses on healthy aging and on the broad range of health services and community-based care systems that support quality of life for older adults. Specifically, her research has engaged with rural residents, those who are socially isolated, living with dementia, and women experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness.

Denise S. Cloutier, (she/her), PhD, FCAHS, FGSA, Professor, Dept of Geography & Research Fellow, Institute of Aging and Lifelong Health, University of Victoria

Annual General Meeting to follow – please see AGM package here.

Feminist Organizing: Some resources to draw upon

Here are some bibliographic resources on feminist organizational practices from the By-law Revision committee report submitted by Betty Donaldson and Kathy Sage November 28, 2023. For a full copy of the By-law Revision Committee Report, please contact Betty Donaldson and/or Kathy Sage.

Bibliography:

Canadian Resources:

Women and Gender Equality Canada This website is a resource for those interested in reducing workplace inequities; gender-based violence; exclusion based upon disability, race and education. It identifies indicators and funding possibilities but there is not much about how to operate differently except for a reference to an indigenous women’s circle. -Contributed by Betty D.

Government of Canada Gender Equality Fund & Women & Gender Equality Canada These two sites access the formal policies of Canada and global issues with respect to some women’s issues. -Contributed by Betty D.

Canadian Women’s Foundation This Canadian Women’s Foundation is Toronto-based. It acknowledges eight Founding Mothers and lists feminist principles for fundraising that are a “work in progress”. -Contributed by Betty D.

Academic Article: Alternative to Hierarchies in Feminist Organizational Design: A Case Study by Marilyn E. Laiken. In Feminist Success Stories/Célébrons nos réussites féministes edited by Karen A. Blackford, Marie-Luce Garneau and Sandra Kirby. Open Edition Books License My takeaway from this article is that it does not offer a prescription for our organization, CUUWA, to follow, but lays out the issues that women face in their daily lives in plain language. I especially resonate with how it describes our lives as women as sliced and diced in modern society – or compartmentalized. – Contributed by Najat A-M

American Resources:

Coalition of Feminists for Social Change This Coalition of Feminists for Social Change appears to be American lead with a focus upon reducing violence against girls and women. It has a coordinating Council and a Secretariat. The organization, which focuses on practitioners in the humanitarian and development spheres, describes itself as anti-hierarchy and collaborative. -Contributed by Betty D.

International Resources:

Action Aid This international organization uses regional hubs to develop local feminist leadership that reduces poverty and inequities in areas suffering crises, whatever the origin. The 10 feminist principles are backed up by pragmatic guidelines. The web sites are very good, reflecting years of field experience in difficult situations. -Contributed by Betty D.

CUUWA Genocide Memorial Stone Dedication – December 2023

Rev. Audrey Brooks, Retired Unitarian Community Minister and CUUWA member, has 42 stones in her Edmonton Genocide Garden. Each memorial commemorates a horrific genocide event that has occurred somewhere in the world. On December 8, 2023, during the Ignite Change 2023 Global Human Rights Convention, at Siloh Baptist Church, a featured event will be the dedication of the CUUWA Memorial stone. It is the first stone to focus specifically upon violence against women and features 2 never-to-be-forgotten Canadian tragedies that target women.

Let us remember:

  • Dec 6, 1989 – During the Montreal Massacre, 14 women, mostly students but some staff, were murdered at an engineering institute in Montreal because they were women. Most were enrolled as students in a professional career that is predominantly male, but a few were staff. Discrimination against women continues to be a bias in many workplaces.
  • Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) is a movement that acknowledges the thousands of women who have disappeared, many along the northern BC “Highway of Tears”, near camps and some reserves. This violence is ongoing.

Violence against women is a component of patriarchal society that is international. Such brutality results in a generational loss that destroys individual lives, depletes families, and reduces humanity in everyone. The CUUWA stone is intended to be a memorial to all women who die violently because of their gender. The aspiration is that such highlighted public attention will inspire us to live more thoughtfully, honourably, and peacefully. We thank the two organizations (Lil Red Dress; Montreal Memorial Monument) for permission to use their images and are grateful for their ongoing advocacy.

The CUUWA supports initiatives that develop various personal, professional, public, and political aspects of women’s lives. We invite you to explore our website.

Please see below for the program for the 15th Annual Genocide Memorial Service.

For further information about the Genocide Garden in Edmonton, please contact:

Rev. Audrey Brooks, (retired) Unitarian Community Minister; 
Member, Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Advocacy
Interfaith chaplain, University of Alberta
Member of the Raging Grannies
Phone 1-780-489-8842
audbrook@telus.net  -or- audbrook@telusplanet.net

Pink Tea with El Jones: A Success!

We had 30+ participants attend our 2023 Pink Tea & AGM, both virtually and in-person at the Ottawa Unitarian Fellowship.

El Jones delivered an impactful performance and everyone went home with a different message.

If you are among those feminists who missed this powerful speaker, El Jones’ performances are available on youtube, and she also has two volumes of poetry published, Live from the Afrikaan Resistance! and Abolitionist Intimacies.

Feminist Watching Group

What are you watching that has a feminist angle? Streaming, TV, film or theatre–all good!

Contact UnitarianMary@gmail.com to get added to our googlegroup and receive updates. We meet online on the 4th Sunday of the month at 3:30 pm Pacific./ 7:30 Eastern / 8:30 pm Atlantic

Our interests are far ranging, from feature films (ideally accessible on Netflix, Kanopy, CBC Gem or Youtube); documentaries; interviews etc.

Here are some examples of what we’ve discussed:

Take This Waltz – Available on Netflix – Directed by Sarah Polley

The Buddha’s Mother and Mary Magdalene -Rev Cynthia Bourgeault, Wendy Garling and Vicki Mackenzie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdxgL_X8mR0

Maternal- on CBC Gem
The Law According to Lidia Poet- on Netflix

Douglass by Hannah Gadsby on Netflix

Sorry for Your Loss on CBC Gem

 Stories We Tell – (documentary) available on National Film Board

The Case Against Cosby (documentary) – available on CBC Gem

The Half of It (movie) – available  on Netflix 

Movie – “The Wonder” on Netflix

Documentary – “Far Out is Not Far Enough” – a portrayal of Tommy Ungerer.

Available on Kanopy.

Zoom link: https://tinyurl.com/feministwatch

Right to Abortion

CUSJ (Canadian Unitarians For Social Justice) and CUUWA

(Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association)

STATEMENT on Access to Abortion in Canada and the United States

2022 05 05

WOMEN IN CANADA, STAND ON GUARD

CUSJ and CUUWA stand together today with our sisters across the border as they face off with a Supreme Court, selected by a polarized judiciary, that has leaked its intention to overturn Roe Vs Wade and open the door for each State to make its own decisions about women’s rights to health care and to the security of the person.  According to maps produced by CNN, over half the states in the United States have either had laws in the past, have strict regulations on abortion now, or have trigger laws that will come into effect when Roe vs Wade is overturned. 

If the landmark legal decision Roe vs Wade is reversed, this will be a giant step backward for the rights of all women, and in particular for the rights of poor women, racialized women, and women whose gender identity and sexual orientation are not typical.  In the text of the decision, as it has been leaked, there is no reference to exceptions for either rape or incest.  It is the harshest possible interpretation of the law.  

The consequences of this decision will be many lives lost.  We fought for the right to abortion because poor women were dying.  A reliable doctor was hard to find. There were many tragedies using illegal and covert methods. This will be a penalty on the poor who don’t have options.  It will make living with poverty even harsher than it already is.  Women with resources will find solutions to their dilemma.  Abortions 

won’t stop.

No woman sets out in life to have an abortion, or takes the decision lightly.  Some women simply cannot bear any more children and recover to take care of a family. Having too many children depletes health, making the woman (and sometimes the child) vulnerable to chronic and acute diseases.  Too many children in a family becomes poverty for all members.  We learned during the COVID pandemic that conditions of overcrowding put whole families at risk.  Single mothers struggle more to care for any child they have.  Both mother and children have reduced opportunities to thrive in life.

A society that supports life would be a society where every child is a wanted child.  It would be a society that ensures that single mothers have all the supports they need to bring their children up with a home, food security, and dignity.  Children have the right to safety, security and social status. Few women who are raped want to raise a child created in hate and violence.  Many of these children suffer from lifelong stigma for who they are. 

A society that cherished children would ensure that if a mother could not keep her child, there would be adequate protective services to find that child a positive environment to grow up in, within their own culture.  Instead, we continue the cycles of troubled, neglected children living in abusive environments and growing up to graduate into the prison industrial complex or living without homes due to inadequate mental and physical health resources.

The abortion debate centres around who will control the bodies, the roles and social power of women in our society, and how we will build healthy families.  As responsible adults, women have the right to control over their own bodies.  They can be trusted to manage decisions on behalf of themselves and their families.  Healthy families, with equal partners who each take responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities are the foundation for a healthy society — a worthy ideal.

We are fortunate, in Canada, that our political situation is not the same as in the United States.  Canadian politicians from all parties have made clear they will not be trying to reopen the debate.  Nevertheless, we should not take our situation for granted.  We have our own movement in Canada to pass a new abortion law, and they work every day to reduce access to abortions in Canada.  Although all provinces now permit medical abortions, access remans unequal and costly if travel is involved. Education about safe sex, contraception, and post-abortion counselling are not always available and free.  We can be grateful for new technology such as the abortion pill and must make sure it is available in Canada at an affordable price.

Women in Canada, stand on guard.  We have worked hard to attain full adult status in our society.  We must continue to expect our provincial and federal governments to resist lobby attempts to limit our freedoms and to respect our rights to make decisions for ourselves. 

Sisters in the United States, we stand with you and support your work to pass fairer laws making clear the rights of women to be responsible for themselves and to have security of the person. 

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association